Shock claim by historian: `Hitler never existed!'

Rodney Trotter
Professor Tales von Hoffman, of the University of Copelia-Bratwurst, shocked the historical world last night by claiming that Hitler never existed.

`A careful study of 20th century documents indicates that Hitler never actually existed but was simply a literary-theological type of the actor, Charlie Chaplin.  The proof of this lies in the unaccountable number of similarities between them: both had tooth comb moustaches; both were brought up by their mothers; both emigrated to find fame and fortune; both were for a while homeless; both liked appearing in front of the camera; both had silly walks which served to further their careers; and both had a soft spot for dogs.'  

'Given this, belief in Hitler as a historical figure is obviously no longer viable as a credible intellectual option today.'

When asked about the account of Hitler given by Churchill in, among other places, his book Great Contemporaries, Professor von Hoffman responded: `Churchill was a man of his times, trapped within the language games of the day.  He saw Chaplin in The Great Dictator and, in order to make sense of the experience, postulated a reality and significance for Hitler which he simply never possessed.'

Does this mean the Second World War never happened?  Not at all, says von Hoffman.  `First of all, there is the evidence of all those movies from the 60s starring John Wayne.  Then there is the fact that I just know in my heart that all that bad stuff must really, really have totally taken place.   I guess you guys will just have to trust me on this one.'

Not all are convinced by von Hoffman's arguments.   Marius Kampf, of the Chaplin Seminar, argues that neither Hitler nor Chaplin ever existed but were merely literary constructs designed to mythologise Ron Mael, the keyboard player in seventies pop band, Sparks.

Certainly, this debate looks set to run. Already other scholars are putting forward arguments about other figures once assumed to be historical: some say that Bela Lugosi is, in fact, Ligon Duncan; that Neil Diamond is Mark Dever; and that Chris, in The Magnificent Seven, is really C J Mahaney.